WATFORD CITY – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued serious safety violations to three companies after an investigation into a flash fire at a North Dakota oil well site last June that killed one worker and severely burned three others near Watford City.

OSHA issued citations to the well’s operator, XTO Energy, and the two servicing companies, Most Wanted Well Service and Sherwood Enterprises, following the investigation of the June 18 incident.

Investigators determined that the employers failed to maintain well control, which resulted in the release of hydrocarbons causing an explosion and subsequent flash fire.

Johnny Stassinos, 52, Rock Springs, Wyo., died from his injuries after falling during the incident. Three other workers, Daniel Montes, 28, Fruita, Colo., Richard Maheu, 27, Rock Springs, and Justin Pyle, 40, Grand Junction, Colo., were injured.

“Employers who are directly involved in well servicing operations must coordinate their actions to ensure well control is maintained at all times. Failing to do so can result in catastrophic consequences such as this case where one man lost his life and three others suffered debilitating burns,” said Eric Brooks, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck. “Communication between the host employer and all contractors is critical in working safely at any site.”

OSHA also found that Most Wanted Well Service failed to provide flame retardant clothing to employees exposed to flash fire hazards. The employees for the servicing company wore non-flame retardant rain gear as their outer most layer on the day of the incident, the OSHA citation states.

OSHA proposes $24,942 in fines for Most Wanted Well Service, based in Rock Springs. XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, and Sherwood Enterprise, Big Piney, Wyo., each face a proposed fine of $12,471.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings.

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